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DA: Girl offered half mil to avoid testifying in child sex abuse case

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 6:27 PM EDT, Fri June 22, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A teenage girl and her boyfriend were allegedly offered half a million dollars to keep quiet
  • Nechemya Weberman, 53, has pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing girl since she was 12
  • Four men charged with bribery, coercion and trying to impede the prosecution
  • The men allegedly threatened take boyfriend's kosher certification from his Brooklyn restaurant

(CNN) -- A teenage girl and her boyfriend were allegedly offered half a million dollars to keep quiet or flee the country to avoid testifying in an upcoming child sex abuse case against the girl's former therapist in Brooklyn's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, according to prosecutors.

Four men were charged Thursday with bribery, coercion and trying to impede the prosecution of Nechemya Weberman, 53, who's pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing the girl since she was 12.

Abraham Rubin, 48, was indicted on seven counts related to the alleged plot to undermine the case. If convicted, he could face up to seven years behind bars.

Three other men, who are brothers, also tried to harass the alleged victim ahead of the trial, prosecutors said. If found guilty, Joseph and Hertzka Berger each could face up to a year in jail, while Jacob Berger faces a potential four years.

"Intimidation of victims and witnesses in sex abuse cases in the Orthodox community is what has made prosecuting these cases so difficult," said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes. "Victims were afraid to come forward because they would be threatened and shunned in their communities."

All four men were required to surrender their passports. Rubin's bail was set at $75,000, while bail for the three others were set at $5,000 each.

Neither the defendants' attorneys nor Weberman's attorney could be immediately reached for comment.

Prosecutors say the men pressured the girl and her boyfriend "to not cooperate with law enforcement," and threatened to take away her boyfriend's rabbi-issued kosher certification from his Brooklyn restaurant.

When they didn't cave, Jacob Berger allegedly ripped the certification down from the wall, prosecutors said, the latest in a string of alleged harassment against the girl, her boyfriend and their family.

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